Empowerment is a big deal these days. If you’re facing mental illness, bullying, harassment, or any other form of oppression, it’s often the songs of empowerment that keep us alive and going through all the hard times, especially during a pandemic when many of our usual support systems are unavailable. I, for one, love a good empowerment anthem, if for no other reason than to remind me that I’m not alone out there. With that in mind, here is a collection of the best songs to help you feel empowered that came out of 2021!
10. Riot Games ft. PVRIS – “Burn it Down”
There’s nothing like a good fight song to get you amped up! Well, League of Legends‘ RIOT GAMES teamed up with PVRIS‘ vocalist to make a great song about taking no shit and standing up to fight. Yes, it is technically a song about professional gaming, but hey, empowerment is still empowerment right? So if you need a song to help amp you up and give you energy to deal with something or someone, this is a great place to start.
9. Arion – “I Don’t Fear You”
Choosing to reject fear of others, be it bullies or anyone really who is trying to put you down, is one of the greatest feelings of empowerment. Being able to stand up and say, “hey, actually, I’m not afraid of you or your shit,” is one of the best things a person can do. ARION‘s song is just this – standing up and saying, nuh-uh, I won’t stand for this shit, “I don’t fear you.”
8. Blame Me! – “Fire, Fuel, and Scars”
For anyone who’s ever been in a shit relationship (romantic or otherwise), “I’m burning every trace of you” is a really satisfying thing to hear, do, or at very least imagine doing. The debut alternative pop/rockers of BLAME ME! have done a great job showing an “I’m done with you and your shit” attitude through this great track about starting over and if you need some straightforward Finnish words, “I don’t need you in my life / I want so much more” are about as empowering as they come.
7. The Georgia Thunderbolts – “Can I Get a Witness”
On a different side of the empowerment spectrum, we find the “hey look at me now” kind of song. THE GEORGIA THUNDERBOLTS are a fresh, new act that we discovered thanks to their self-titled EP from 2020, with the full-length album to follow this year. The near-title-track is an extremely catchy anthem that humbly says to anyone who doubted them, “looks like we proved you wrong.” Can I get a witness?
6. Imagine Dragons – “Enemy” ft. JID (from Arcane)
Speaking of League of Legends, “Look out for yourself” is one of the main lines of this epic piece. If you haven’t seen the Netflix original series, Arcane, shame on you (at least if you want to come for the action and stay for the characters and story). There are a ton of great stories and themes in the show, but one of the most poignant ones is the love we have for one another and what happens when that gets threatened, especially at a young age. Much of the show is dedicated to people trying to look out for each other, but it also begs a reminder, that we also need to be able to look out for ourselves. There’s a lot to unpack in this song and the show that goes with it, but if you take anything away from it, hopefully its a feeling of empowerment.
5. Laurenne/Louhimo – “Bitch Fire”
Sometimes empowerment comes in the form of soft reminders. However, sometimes empowerment comes in a blaze of white hot light as two of the most badass (and simultaneously positive) women in Finland – Netta Laurenne and Noora Louhimo – get in your face and tell you that they aren’t gonna take shit from anyone and neither should you, as they dare listeners to face their bitch fire. If you need something forceful and fierce to back you up, this is a great choice.
4. Noora Louhimo Experience – “Valkyrie”
Speaking of Noora Louhimo, have you heard much about her past with bullying? In our interview from this year, she spoke out as a force for good in this world and of all the great songs on “Eternal Wheel of Space and Time,” perhaps the one to stand out most as an empowerment anthem was “Valkyrie,” as she swears not to stop for anything, not gods, kings, or crosses. If that isn’t empowering, what is?
3. Icon for Hire – “Seeds”
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a strong metaphor. If there’s one thing I love more than a strong metaphor, it’s a strong metaphor that I haven’t heard before. ICON FOR HIRE knocked it out of the park with the metaphor in “Seeds,” with their fabulous line about how “they tried to bury us / they didn’t know that we were seeds.” It’s true that this world and the people in it will try to bury you, but hey, there are some things on this planet that thrive when buried. Let’s try to be more like seeds, yes?
2. Machinae Supremacy – “Pendulum”
The top two songs on this list are tied for first place in my heart, personally, and differ only stylistically. The modern choice is, of course, MACHINAE SUPREMACY with “Pendulum.” The song was online for hardly any time before comments began claiming it as one of the best anthems for [insert anything here]. Be it trans rights or bullying or relationships or whatever your struggle may be, there’s nothing in the world that feels better than knowing someone out there has promised that, “my sole endeavor is to silence your mind a little / you’re not alone / you are so much more than what’s been done to you / I’ll tell you what / I will lift you up when you need it / and hold you down when you want me to / all the things you feel you can feel with me / are real and true.” What a wonderful reminder.
1. Merry Clayton – “Beautiful Scars“
If ever there was an artist who deserves your respect for attitude alone, it’s Merry Clayton. Her name may not be familiar to you, but if you’ve ever heard “Gimme Shelter” by THE ROLLING STONES or “Sweet Home Alabama” by LYNYRD SKYNYRD, you’ve certainly heard her voice. With a bare brief browsing of her life and history, it becomes immediately clear that she has been through some shit, to say the least, and if you don’t believe me… notice that she’s in a scooter in the video? The woman lived through a hellish car accident that took most of her legs, and here she is, still “standing tall” so to speak. If she can do it, I bet you all can too.
I hope that you’ve not just survived, but even thrived through 2021, and if not, I hope that you have an empowering 2022! Remember to take care of yourselves!
Written by Bear Wiseman